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The benefits of liquid gold

Wikispanishfood editorial team

Spanish researchers at CIBERobn (the Spanish Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition), led by Dr. Miguel Ruiz-Canela and Prof. Miguel A. Martínez-González, professors of Preventive Medicine at the University of Navarra, recently published a report in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) which shows that a nutritional education program with abundant consumption of extra virgin olive oil yielded a relative reduction of risk by 66% (95% confidence interval: 42% to 80%) of contracting peripheral arteriopathy. These results validate the enormous benefits of the Mediterranean diet vis–à–vis arteriosclerosis demonstrated in the randomized PREDIMED clinical trial as well as its role in the sharp reduction in risk of peripheral symptomatic arteriopathy.

The intervention and follow-up lasted more than four years and included 2,539 patients assigned a diet with virgin olive oil, who were contrasted with a control group with 2,444 who received instruction on following a low-fat diet. According to Martínez-González, another group, with 2,452 participants, also received instruction on the Mediterranean diet and consumed nuts instead of extra virgin olive oil. That group also experienced a notable reduction in risk, by 50% (19% to 70%), compared with the control group.

Virgin olive oil, man’s natural fuel

This is the first clinical trial to demonstrate that a dietary intervention can reduce the risk of peripheral arteriopathy. This illness, also known as peripheral vascular disease, occurs when there is a narrowing or obstruction in the arteries in the upper or lower limbs. It generally occurs in the arteries of the legs (lower limb ischemia). The most frequent symptoms are intermittent claudication which manifests itself as pain when walking (most often in the calf muscles) and which eases when a person stops such activity.

More than 5% of people over 50 suffer from this disease. Smokers, diabetics and people with high blood pressure and cholesterol are most prone.


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